For Immediate Release
March 1, 2005
From the 2004 Human Rights Reports, 2/28/05
President Bush presented a new National Security Strategy on Sept. 17, 2002 based on the principle that promoting political and economic freedom and respect for human dignity will build a safer and better world.
The United States and its international partners worked with many countries during 2004 to expand freedom by helping to protect the political rights of their citizens, and to advance the rule of law in their societies.
Since the removal of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan have worked to diminish terrorism and improve security; to bridge traditional ethnic, religious, and tribal divides; to craft a new constitution faithful to their values and way of life; to extend fundamental rights to women and minorities; and to open their society to unprecedented political competition and freedom of expression.
The international community responded by helping to register voters across a geographically scattered, largely illiterate population; by educating cadres of Afghan election workers and political participants in the conduct of elections and campaigns, and by joining with Afghan forces to provide security during pre-election preparations and during the actual voting.
In the presidential election in October, more than 8 million Afghans - including more than 3.2 million women - cast ballots to choose their leader in a truly democratic election for the first time, with a majority selecting President Hamid Karzai.
In Iraq, people faced a series of difficult tasks as they prepared to choose their own leader through democratic elections, while the severity and ubiquity of terrorist attacks expanded the dimensions of the challenges. On Jan. 30, elections for the Transitional National Assembly took place. It was the country's first step in the formation of an Iraqi Transitional Government.
Events like these elections will increase the prospects for peace, provide a solid grounding for self-government in these countries and help create momentum for the improvement of human rights practices for all people participating in them.